“That is the thing about teaching. It’s not about what you want to say. It’s about what they need to hear.”
Continuing on its wonderfully effective journey using the past as the narrative backbone, Arrow returns to Russia where Team Arrow must find a pulse wave generator and the plutonium to power it, perhaps their only shot in taking down the enigmatic Mar Novu in hopes of discovering the truth about the Crisis.
From the start, “Prochnost” sets the tone for the driving force behind its narrative. A cool yet abbreviated training session between Oliver and Mia is a promising start, hinting at the bond forming between father and daughter. It’s a welcome change-of-pace, seeing Mia, dare I say, happy, instead of her scowling, grumpy, and combative default mode. Maybe it’s Katherine McNamara overplaying that persona— but Mia’s sullen, trust no one attitude has always put me at odds with her character.
Yes, that mask she wears is understandable — necessary even — but something about it has never rung true. Perhaps that’s the point though, because what I have always loved about Mia are the moments where her pain shines through. Combined with her heart, skill, and boundless determination, that vulnerability makes her more accessible, more human if you will. “Prochnost” doubles down on this, giving us a view of both sides of her character.
McNamara shines this week, her chemistry with Stephen Amell making me yearn for another season of these two paired up. Not only do they play off one another well, but Mia and Oliver are two peas in a pod and when they share the screen, it’s as if the scenes write themselves.
But as fun as those two are, a trip to Russia isn’t complete without an appearance from Anatoly (David Nykl, Stargate: Atlantis, The Sleepers). Maybe the most complete supporting character in the series, he’s out of the life of violence, living the quiet life as a bar owner. Still, he has connections and is pivotal in Oliver and the gang procuring plans for the pulse wave generator. Maybe more important though is the sage advice he gives to Oliver concerning Mia and William.
Anatoly reminds his friend and brother that by hiding the horrible things he did while in Russia, it buries his good deeds as well. It’s a natural fear; the shame of what we’ve done combined with the terror that those we love will think less of us when they find out the truth.
Thanks to his friend’s advice, Oliver overcomes that fear and reaches out to his children, granting them full-access in getting to know the man that he is by discovering the man that he was. Anatoly’s contributions don’t stop there. After questioning her ability to change, he acknowledges that Laurel is no longer that villainous Black Siren but an honest to goodness white hat. Adding this to her earlier conversation with Mia (there was a bit of hero worship going on there) helps Laurel see that betraying those who have put so much faith into her is not worth Mar Novu’s promise to bring her world back. Unfortunately, Lyla doesn’t agree, and when Laurel brings Oliver and John to the meet-up, the A.R.G.U.S. chief has the trio darted. It suggests that there’s a lot more to the story we’re not privy to and though that doesn’t absolve Lyla of her actions, it does bring into question the need for such secrecy.
Joining Anatoly on the blast-from-the-past train is Roy (Colton Haynes, Teen Wolf, The Gates). Diggle recruits him to help steal the plutonium but also help Roy to see that running away from his past will neither help him deal with the bloodlust or atone for his past atrocities. Fighting the good fight, for a purpose and for those beside him, is how Roy was able to control it in the future, so why not get a nice jumpstart on things in the present?
When cutting-and-pasting snippets of an entire season’s arc in a single episode, things are not going to be perfect. Indeed, as good as this season has been, each episode has been plagued by varying degrees of narrative haste. “Prochnost” is no different, with the pulse wave generator/bloodbath portion, though entertaining, lacked a sense of urgency, a trait often shared when events feel rushed. Roy’s b-story suffers from the same fate but even these shortcomings don’t derail the power of watching Oliver bond with Mia and William, nor Laurel finally believing that she is truly one of the good guys.
- Every time I think Stephen Amell can’t get any better this season, he proves me wrong. The undying love and desperation to keep his kids safe is such a powerful performance, as good as he’s been all year (and that’s saying something!). Mia’s reaction only heightens the emotion, another ringing endorsement on the exceptional chemistry they share. I haven’t been this emotionally invested in Arrow since the phenomenal Season 2. It’s bittersweet in knowing the end is fast approaching. On the one hand, the addition of the future kids has injected a new energy into the show, but after the last couple years of uneven storytelling, to go out on what looks to be a high note is all that anyone can ask for.